Who Fishes for Alligator Gar in Texas?

To date, research by the TPWD has focused on understanding how long alligator gar live, how fast they grow, and how often they successfully reproduce, as well as how healthy our populations currently are. Gathering this information was necessary in order to determine how populations are reacting to current fishing pressures, and to predict how they will respond in the future.

While we have learned a great deal about the fish, we need to know more about the anglers. TPWD recently conducted a voluntary online survey of those interested in the management and conservation of alligator gar in Texas. The goal is to gain a better understanding of who our constituents are, how our anglers like to fish, their harvest practices, and how they would like to see alligator gar managed in the future.

Data from recent statewide surveys suggest that about 100,000 Texas anglers fish for alligator gar in Texas each year. These include rod-and-reel anglers, bow fishers, jugliners, and trotliners. Our alligator gar fisheries also support a thriving guiding industry, serving clients from all over the world. However, more data are needed to characterize our alligator gar anglers and understand their preferences, attitudes, and opinions.

Our management goal is to sustain our unique alligator gar fisheries for future generations of Texans. Because alligator gar are long-lived, and successful reproduction occurs infrequently, relatively few fish can be harvested each year. For example, the Trinity River above Lake Livingston Dam is regarded as one of the best gar fisheries in the world. In 2010, we estimated that the population contained about 8,400 adult alligator gar. If 10% of this population were harvested each year under typical reproduction, over time only about 40% of the population would remain and few fish longer than 6 feet would be left. To maintain our current populations, we’ve determined harvest should not exceed 5% of the population each year. Information gained through the survey, coupled with our understanding of population biology and ecology, will be used to make future management decisions.